GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Exercise Dynamic Front 18 may initially conjure up visions of field artillery shaking the ground, but the air space above Grafenwoehr Training Area is also fully active as U.S. Air Force and Army components work together to expand the operational reach of ground troops.
“Coming over here to Europe has been an awesome opportunity for us to really understand how to fight against an enemy air defense artillery, enemy field artillery and enemy maneuver forces that are on the same level as us,” said Lt. Col. Nate Surrey, commander, 3rd Battalion, 227th Assault Helicopter Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
These combined arms training operations are layered laterally, by altitude and by time throughout 7th Army Training Command’s area of operations during Dynamic Front. Both mortars and artillery shoot while troops are maneuvering on the ground; the Air Force enables German joint terminal attack controllers who are directing American close air support; and a rotational unit flies gun raids, air assault and route reconnaissance missions through the skies.
“Whether it be mortars or artillery, attack aviation with helicopters or close air support with fixed wing: we can do all of that in a small space and we’ve been very successful in making sure we bring all that combat effectiveness at the right place, at the right time,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Anderson, chief of Grafenwoehr Training Area range operations.
Those participating in Dynamic Front are working together to support maneuver at 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area. Airmen on Joint Multinational Readiness Center’s Bullseye observer, coach/trainer team manage aircraft taking part in 7th Army Training Command’s hosted exercises and serve as liaisons for sister-service integration. This includes overseeing the multinational Joint Area Attack Controllers who translate the air component to the maneuver and fire support elements on the ground.
“Our specific mission is to ensure joint integration between Army fire support, ground- and surface-to-surface fires, and close air support — both rotary and for fixed wing,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Jason Tonkinson, superintendent of the Bullseye observer, coach/trainer team. “We’re able to bring any multinational fixed wing in to any multinational fight and put all the pieces together in order to suppress, attack and destroy an enemy in order to allow for freedom of maneuver.”
The common theme of integrating into and enabling the maneuver fight includes Army aircraft as well. It’s the basic definition of combining assets into one operation with field artillery fires suppressing enemy threats along air routes. In turn, these air routes are being used in route reconnaissance, security patrols and air assaults to support the infantry in its quest to seize an objective, explained Surrey.
“It’s the meshing of all the different combined arms,” said Capt. Eric Murphy, assistant operations officer for 3rd Battalion, 227th Assault Helicopter Regiment. “The ground infantry wouldn’t be able to have the operational reach that they do without our helicopters putting them out there and putting the guns out there to support them, and without the attack helicopters providing the cover and security — so really enabling the ground force commander to execute his objectives, which is our main objective.”
The integrated training environment at 7th Army Training Command during Dynamic Front enhances units’ abilities and skills while improving their tactics, techniques and procedures.
“The continuous repetitions that we’ve had over here are exactly what any unit needs to really speed up our training time and efficiency,” said Lt. Col. Jason Cook, commander, 1st Battalion, 227th Attack Reconnaissance Regiment. “The reaction time from call-for-fire to rounds hitting the target is reduced almost every day and every iteration that we do this. Every time we get a chance to work together, we learn each other’s systems, we learn each other’s processes and techniques, and it makes us fight better as one.”